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But Spencer Lancaster was addictive.
And I was high.
High off his taste, starved for his kiss, and desperate for his touch.
So when he asked me to stay, to enjoy his company for more nights than I knew I should, I wasn’t in the right mind to say no.
Everything was perfect. A dream come true.
All of the truths that could tear us apart.
*Clandestine is a FULL-LENGTH STANDALONE.
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Exposed: Spencer Lancaster, CEO of The Lancaster Hotels, was recently rumored to be attending clandestine meetings with UK developer Henry Gilbert. Sources close to Gilbert say Lancaster is looking to expand his currently domestic brand of hotel chains into the European market. If you recall, when the senior Lancaster retired five years ago, he snubbed his younger sons and left the hotels solely to his eldest. Spencer Lancaster appears to be anxious at the news that his estranged middle brother Grant Lancaster is starting his own brand of luxury hotels. The brothers are set to go head-to-head in a few months. Will the black sheep or the golden child playboy come out on top?
We can’t wait to report.
“Fucking media.” The words are laced with venom as they move past my lips. I can’t believe this shit. The bastards can’t keep their noses out of my business. It’s fucking bullshit. Ever since my father named me the CEO to The Lancaster Hotel chains, they’ve been watching my every move.
I swear I can’t catch a break. No matter where I am, they’re right behind me. The constant attention from the press isn’t the surprise. I’m used to it by now. But what really pisses me off is their need to constantly pit brother against brother. Pierce is too young to be part of the drama, but Grant isn’t, and Grant is a major issue. The media is relentless when it comes to our estranged relationship.
We may be estranged, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about him. Yes, we haven’t been in the same room in years. No, we don’t speak. But it doesn’t mean they have to make something where it’s not. Born only twelve months apart, we look almost identical with our square jaws and, as the tabloids say, “piercing” green eyes, but that’s where the similarities end. I’m no golden child, but I don’t make dumb ass decisions all the time, unlike my brother.
“Mr. Lancaster?” my assistant Lucy calls from the adjoining room. “I have Gloria Reynolds on line one.”
My nose scrunches at the unfamiliar name. “Who? I don’t know any Gloria,” I state.
“She’s Mr. Gilbert’s secretary, sir.”
“Put her through,” I bellow, grabbing the phone and pulling it to my ear. “Hello, Gloria. To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“I have Henry Gilbert holding for you. Mr. Gilbert, I have Mr. Lancaster on the line.”
“Thank you, Gloria. I’ll take it from here.” Gilbert’s thick English accent rings through the line. “Lancaster, why must your press always stick their nose in other people’s business?”
“When you have the answer to that question, please share your wisdom.” My eyes roll to the ceiling in frustration, and I bring my hand up to run through my hair. “What can I do for you, Henry?”
“We need to talk. Since the news has leaked that I’m looking to develop the property in Manchester, my phone has been ringing nonstop with offers.”
I knew this would happen. When word got out that I was interested in that property, others would wonder what potential I saw in the location. The fact that I haven’t already sealed the deal and purchased the land is a mistake I intend to rectify.
“I hate to break it to you, but I have a string of people on the phone offering twice what you did.”
Fuck, I should have known. “You wouldn’t dare.” The threat is thick on my tongue. Henry Gilbert got his start with my endorsement. I’d bury him as quick as I built him and he knows it.
“You’re correct, champ. I’m too loyal. But Randall isn’t. We both know he’d never answer your call if I weren’t involved.”
He’s right. There has been bad blood between Randall Taylor and myself ever since a deal fell through with our fathers years ago. If it weren’t for Henry’s involvement and acting as the middleman between us, this deal wouldn’t have even gotten this far.
“If I were you, I’d sign the papers before he goes above both our heads.”
“I’m not signing shit until I see the property.”
“Then I’d highly recommend that you get your arse on a plane and close the deal before I change my mind.”
“I’ll make my flight this afternoon. Stay in touch. I’ll be in contact.”
He hangs up without so much as a goodbye.
“Lucy,” I call through the door.
“Yes, sir?” Her auburn hair peeks around the frame.
“Get the plane ready. I need to fly out to Manchester.”
“Absolutely. When would you like to return?”
“Tell the pilot it’s one-way. I intend to work out some additional deals while in Europe.”
“On it, sir.” She turns to retreat.
“Yes, sir.” She looks at me, brow raised.
“Stop calling me sir. I’m not my father.”
A smile graces her face. “As you wish.”
Two hours later I’m sitting on the tarmac in one of my father’s fleet of private planes. The Lancaster money and name always has its perks, and today is no exception. I’m finishing up an email to all of my hotel managers, letting them know I’ll be out of town for the next couple of weeks and reminding them of the protocol when a sultry voice I’ve never heard before comes over the inflight speakers.